by Victoria Barrett
I spent my first 22 or so childbearing years childfree by choice. Then I changed my mind. Now, my life is both adorable and incredibly disgusting.
1. Get another person's poop on my hands and not throw up.
Turns out poop is not actually that big a deal. Somehow. The real mystery here is how. It's not because babies are so cute — once when I changed my niece's diaper I had to stop three times to puke in the middle of the process, and she was plenty cute. I'm gonna blame the urgency of the situation. Or exhaustion. Or such total neglect of self-care that it doesn't even matter if there's shit on my hand.
2. Wipe puke out of my cleavage and keep on keeping on.
Sometimes it's spit-up, which is really just slightly slimy, body-warm baby formula. Sometimes it's puke. Acidy, smelly puke. No matter what shirt I'm wearing, the five-month-old can find the cleavage and puke down it. He seems to think he gets bonus points for doing this when I'm wearing a fresh-from-the-laundry clean bra.
4. Spend entire afternoons with random objects on my head.
5. Not even flinch when another human being spits $6/quart, local, grass-fed yogurt all over me.
I know. Why am I even feeding this stuff to a person whose taste buds aren't fully developed?
6. Completely abandon the pretense of non-washable fabrics.
7. Consider a regular haircut to be luxurious self-care.
8. Brush the dog hair off the snack and pop it right in the toddler's mouth. Or mine.
The internet suggests that it's not a universal condition, but my toddler is terrified of the Roomba. And my dog sheds like a motherfucker. Every now and then there's a stretch of time where nobody is sleeping and yet, somehow, one of us parents has time to vacuum. Otherwise: dog hair central. For a while, we would dive for that wayward Goldfish and throw it away. Now we just shrug and eat up.
9. Wake up 90 minutes before sunrise and consider myself lucky.
It's been five months since I've slept through a night, because on the handful of nights the new baby has slept through, I've woken up six times wondering what the hell is wrong. In that span of time, I have nearly murdered a neighbor who leaves for work on a loud Harley at 6:00 a.m., both cats, and the dog for waking me up while the babies were asleep.
10. Sanitize "Push It" for toddler dance parties.
With apologies to Salt, Pepa, and Spinderella, "This dance ain't for everybody/only the sassy people."
Victoria Barrett's fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Glimmer Train, Salon, PANK, and other outlets. She lives and writes in a house full of men and boys (even the pets) and tries not to feel too bad about it.